The ninth film in the Hellraiser franchise is, in alternating turns, better and worse than its prequels. I read once that many of the previous Hellraiser sequels did not begin life as Hellraiser films; instead, they were simply generic horror scripts that no one wanted to produce. When the studio decided they wanted another Hellraiser movie, they’d take one of those scripts off the shelf, add a few ‘Pinhead’ pages, and start shooting. ‘Revelations’ was always intended to be a Hellraiser movie; in fact, it was produced in a rush and on the cheap simply so that the studio could retain the rights to the character (much like the famed Fantastic Four movie that Fox shot for one million dollars but never released, just so they could maintain an active license status).
‘Revelations’ opens with two over-privileged white boys who decide that living in their cliff-side Beverly Hills mansions is just too darned hard, so they hop in a car and drive to Mexico, intending to sexually exploit and otherwise demean some of the women there. The boys are soon given the puzzle box by a mysterious old man and call forth Pinhead, who promptly kills the worst of the two.
The remaining boy (the better of the two) then begins killing prostitutes and feeding their blood to his dead friend, which, as we saw in the original Hellraiser, returns him to the flesh.
All of this is being told through ‘found-footage,’ Blair Witch-style. The boys’ families sent a detective to Mexico, who somehow managed to find a video camera on which much of the backstory was recorded. The sister of the slightly better boy (and girlfriend of the worst one) watches the video as the two sets of parents convene an awkward dinner party where no one talks about their missing kids (why the hell did they get together, then?).
They hired a new guy to play Pinhead this time around (the old one passed on this, which is odd, seeing as some of the other sequels were far, far worse), but he just doesn’t have the presence to pull it off. It feels like the families are being terrorized by the middle management of hell. The embodiment of depravity should not look like he’s in over his head. Most of the other actors are fine or even good; with the exception of the better boy, who is passible in most scenes, but can’t sell the ones with high emotion or rage.
If nothing else, this movie feels a lot more like a Hellraiser film than many of the seven other sequels do. For that reason alone, it’s one of the better entries in the series. But the artificiality of the families at the center of the story gives the whole thing an unfortunate ‘soap opera’ quality that makes it hard to connect with or be effected by it.